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You attended the Pride march, watched the performers, and reveled in the eleganza at Denver’s PrideFest. Images of flashy sequins and that sense of unabashed joy still sit with you. But now what? Not even Rupaul’s Drag Race compares to the exhilaration of a live drag performance. Luckily, thanks to Denver’s thriving lineup of drag brunches, you don’t have to wait until next June (or stay up until 1 a.m. for a live show at Tracks bar) to see your favorite queens again.
For those who aren’t familiar, drag brunches offer a mixed bag of queer entertainment—lip syncs, comedy routines, games, and more—all while patrons feast on tasty early day fare and bottomless mimosas. Outside of brunch events, most drag gigs are still performed at night, according to Denver Milk Market host Shirley Delta Blow. But those who participate in the queer artform have historically embraced the daytime events as a form of communal healing, particularly during the 1980s HIV/AIDS epidemic. Poppy Tooker, author of Drag Queen Brunch, said in a Thrillist article, “drag queens were throwing drag brunches to take care of their friends who were dying before anyone was taking care of them.” Nowadays, as queer culture has become more widely accepted, the events continue to gain popularity while serving as a welcoming environment for individuals to come together. “Drag brunch is a safe place for you to come and be yourself, no matter who you are or how you identify,” says Zarah, a regular drag entertainer at Triangle Denver’s brunch.
Since each local brunch experience has its own distinct flair, we asked the experts—the queens who host them—for the scoop on what to expect and what to order at each one.
Editor’s note: This article was last updated on July 25, 2022. Did we miss your favorite drag brunch? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In no uncertain terms, LGBTQ-friendly chain Hamburger Mary’s is a national mainstay in gay culture for its campy ambiance and high-profile drag acts. At its location in City Park West, self-proclaimed brunch babe Jessica L’Whor crafts a unique experience every weekend with new outfits, performances, and games. But the show—voted best drag brunch by the Colorado Drag, Initiatives, and Variety Awards in 2020 and 2021—never changes one thing: its ending. The finale consists of a drag roulette where the hosts perform a rapid-fire megamix of audience-selected songs with no prior preparation. It’s eccentric and off-the-cuff with a good dash of chaos.
What to order: L’Whor says you have to try the breakfast burrito, so don’t fill up on the bloody marys. $10 with entrées starting at $12; Saturdays and Sundays, shows at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; call 303-993-5812 to reserve tickets; 1336 E. 17th Ave.
Tucked away in the Ballpark neighborhood’s beloved Dairy Block alley, Denver Milk Market hosts a free drag bingo brunch every Sunday. Diners order food and drink from the 16 stalls and vendors inside before grabbing a seat on the Wazee Street patio for bingo hosted by mistress of ceremonies Shirley Delta Blow. It’s a “come whenever, leave whenever” event, but make sure you stick around for Shirley’s Diva Academy, in which she teaches the audience a few tricks of the trade to the tune of Celine Dion’s classic “My Heart Will Go On.”
What to order: Options include breakfast pizza and crab cake Benedict, but Shirley recommends the fluffy pancakes, which she says are the biggest ones you’ll ever see. Menu prices vary; Sundays, 11 a.m.–2 p.m.; first-come, first-serve with limited seating; 1800 Wazee St., Suite 100
This queer- and female-owned brewery only recently started its drag brunch program, but its breakfast meets beer approach brings new life to the Denver drag calendar. LaLa Queen serves as the main host and brings along three or more fellow drag performers to ensure a diverse and engaging experience. The brewery only seats about 40 people, so the show is intimate and up-close; the spaces between the bar tables serve as part of the stage. Even though it’s only a monthly show, it’s already a Goldspot mainstay. As owner Kelissa Hieber says, “we’ll never stop doing it.”
What to order: Pre-set breakfast plates are provided by the nearby Noshery, and complementary Goldspot pints can be prepared as specialty “beermosas.” Both food and drink can accommodate all dietary restrictions. $30 (ticket price includes food and drink); last Sunday of the month, 12–2 p.m.; book tickets online; 4970 Lowell Blvd.
For fans of a themed show, look no further than Triangle Bar. Each brunch uses a central icon or fixture of gay culture—Missy Elliott or The Devil Wears Prada, for instance—as inspiration for the day’s lineup. With a rotation of talented hosts like comedy queen Dixie Krystals and energetic diva Zarah, the theme is always transformed into performances of wildly different timbres. To make sure you’re never out of the loop while you watch, Triangle also plays music videos or the movie on their large-scale LED screen.
What to order: While Dixie and Zarah both rave about the crème brûlée french toast, the menu also includes savory hits like pulled-pork Benedict and red salsa chilaquiles. $25 for food and the show, drinks separate; Sundays, 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.; book a table online ($20 deposit for four guests); 2036 N. Broadway
If you’re more go-with-the-flow, take advantage of X Bar’s 21-plus “liquid brunch.” General manager and regular performer Kelela C. says that with the no-cover, no-reservation system, no one’s “too worried about anything but having a good time.” One or two of the resident drag hosts lead the outdoor patio show, combining drag performance with plenty of time to dance to the beats provided by local DJs. Libations are front and center with wine specials like Chandon and Whispering Angel, but you can always grab a bite from the local food truck, which changes week to week. Seating is available, but as Kelela says, most patrons are standing, drinking, and dancing.
What to order: If the Brutal Poodle’s Grub Gremlin truck is in, Kelela highly recommends the breakfast sliders. Food truck prices vary; Sundays, 12–4 p.m.; first-come, first-serve with limited seating; 629 E. Colfax Ave.
Bonus: Drag Brunch at Ironton Distillery, July 31
Pay it forward with a special drag brunch buffet at Ironton. This adults-only show is set in the distillery’s outdoor gardens, and a portion of proceeds go towards queer youth advocacy organization Inside Out Youth Services. Your ticket includes food, an “Over the Rainbow” cocktail, and a fabulous performance from five seasoned queens. $80 for table of 2; July 31, 12–2 p.m.; book a table online; 3636 Chestnut Place